Behar Wonders: 'Right Wing' Planted McCain Story?

Discussing the recent New York Times smear of John McCain and alleged inappropriate relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, "View" co-host Joy Behar, who floated conspiracy theories in the past, floated another one today.

"Is there any possibility that- I'm just throwing this out, and Bill O'Reilly will call me a 'pinhead' for this. But is there any possibility that the right wing of the party, the real conservative Limbaugh, Huckabee, that group, planted this article? Like they're behind it? Because they're too trying to cut his legs off."

Audio available here.

The show led off with The New York Times story. Joy Behar, to her credit, did express some skepticism of the report believing Iseman “has an ax to grind.” Elisabeth Hasselbeck attacked the Times’ liberal bias adding that this is a “smear campaign.” Barbara Walters stepped in to defend the Times adding the delayed release maybe because “ they had to get all of their facts together” and she was “not sure that it was a malicious attempt on The New York Times to do it right now.” Hasselbeck added that she did indeed feel it was a malicious attempt. The entire transcript is below.

The entire transcript is below.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: I don’t know whether you all are aware, but this morning, John McCain has had to go out in front of folks at a press conference and answer these allegations that have come up against him made by The New York Times, among other papers, I believe-

BARBARA WALTERS: You’ve got The Washington Post.

JOY BEHAR: And The New Republic.

GOLDBERG: And The New Republic. An alleged affair with a young lady. Maybe he was maybe more favorful [sic] towards her because he liked her and she’s a lobbyist. I mean, it’s very crazy. So he’s come out, both he and Cindy, and said "no, this isn’t so. Yes I know this young lady. Yes, she’s somebody I worked with, but no."

WALTERS: And it’s Vicki Iseman just for the record.

GOLDBERG: And I’m just wondering what you all were thinking.

BEHAR: Well, they’re saying that she was hanging around him quite a bit during his first presidential bid and that’s because she’s a lobbyist, you know, it’s a little bit shaky because she has an ax to grind. And she has clients. She may want him to curry favor, etcetera. That’s what’s a little tricky about this.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: I think they would be the least likely of all to, to take favors from anyone. He’s had friends from this business in Washington for years, and he is going against what they probably would want him to do time and time again because he didn’t think it was right. I think this is finally a time that we’re seeing The New York Times being exposed for their liberal bias. We’ve seen it in their op-ed pages before and I also feel that these are unfounded attacks.

GOLDBERG: Right.

BEHAR: They’re allegations.

HASSELBECK: They can be damaging.

SHEPHERD: You sound like my husband girl when I confronted him.[laughter]

HASSELBECK: Thankfully John McCain is a man of credit.

WALTERS: There is another side, there is another side. And that is that is brings up in this article, John McCain, the title of the piece, which is interesting. It doesn’t say "an alleged relationship" or "influence pending." It says "for McCain’s self confidence on ethics poses its own risks." Because for the last years, he has been doing everything, whether it’s campaign finance reform and so forth, to make up for something that happened in 1987, which was he was one of the so called "Keating Five." And he’s the only one of these Senators or Congressmen who’s still in the Senate. Because there was a man named Charles Keating who was a real estate developer, and this was involved with savings and loan banks. He eventually went to jail. There was questions about influence. And McCain has regretted that, but it now came up again. And so after it he said "I am going to be the one with the most ethics. I’m going to be the cleanest. I’m going to be the one with the greatest conscience."

HASSELBECK: And great character we’ve seen it from him.

WALTERS: And great character, but you see there is that shadow which then comes again, and-

HASSELBECK: Wasn’t he released from that, from the investigation? Didn’t they say that he was- I thought I read somewhere that they had released him from the investigation.

WALTERS: No, he was not released, and he was investigated. He did not go to jai, and he has spent his life ever since trying to be even more ethical than ethical.

HASSELBECK: I mean, this is a smear campaign.

WALTERS: The thing, I was talking to somebody last night, who was a very strong politician. I won’t say who it is, who said "if it had to happen it’s good that it happened now and not later."

BEHAR: Well I was going to say about The New York Times being a liberal paper, which you know, if it’s such a liberal paper, and if it’s out to get McCain, they should have printed this months ago before the Iowa Caucus so that they could have stopped him in his tracks.

HASSELBECK: No, but they were holding it actually which is-

BEHAR: They held it. They held it.

HASSELBECK: I find even more awful.

BEHAR: Right, it’s safer now to bring it out isn’t it?

HASSELBECK: But what is their, what is their intention? If it’s a newspaper, then it’s news, you release it when it’s new.

WALTERS: Elisabeth, Elisabeth.

BEHAR: One at a time please.

WALTERS: They have been investigating this for months. It’s not the only paper. I mean, you know, do we all think that it’s very sad that this happened to McCain?

BEHAR: Of course.

WALTERS: Of course. But, you know, when you have three or four papers and this one says, "I’m going to print it.," "no, I’m going to print it," maybe they had to get all of their facts together. I’m not sure that it was a malicious attempt on The New York Times to do it right now.

HASSELBECK: I believe it is. That’s where I stand. Because I feel that it is malicious.

BEHAR: Wouldn’t they out, wouldn’t they out Clinton the same way when he was in trouble? I mean The New York Times is The New York Times.

HASSELBECK: The New York Times right now in my mind would err on the side of being a tabloid at this point because this is-

BEHAR: To you, to you.

HASSELBECK: This is not an op-ed piece. This is something that was on the front page of The New York Times, oddly enough on the left hand side of the cover.

GOLDBERG: We have, we have them talking about everyone’s personal life. I mean this is really the issues as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t matter because somebody’s going to print it. If somebody has it, they’re not going to hold it. You know what I mean?

WALTERS: That’s right, and some of his aides have testified that this happened.

GOLDBERG: Yes, and so my point is, really what this shows is the same as what were talking about yesterday with Barack. You know, now that he’s in the forefront, you know, it’s going to start hitting the fan. I don’t want to say the "s" word or I’ll get in trouble.

HASSELBECK: They’ll call you everything, right.

[...]

BEHAR: Is there any possibility that- I’m just throwing this out, and Bill O’Reilly will call me a "pinhead" for this. But is there any possibility that the right wing of the party, the real conservative Limbaugh, Huckabee, that group, planted this article? Like they’re behind it?

HASSELBECK: Planted against McCain?

BEHAR: Against McCain yeah. Because they’re the ones who are trying to really cut him out, cut his legs off.

HASSELBECK: I don’t think so at all.

BEHAR: Is that too conspiratorial?

GOLDBERG: Possible, nothing is impossible.

HASSELBECK: I think, leave no stone left unturned. Let’s figure out who’s behind it and what the sources are.

BEHAR: Because they have the motivation right now.